Productivity is a painful topic for many people. Philosophically, this concept is a nightmare. Americans invest in personal productivity with moral weight, as if a person’s worth can be determined by careful consideration of the products of work, both professional and personal. More practical issues around productivity are equally disturbing. Are you working hard enough to keep your job? How can you improve your marriage? How to raise adaptive children? How to stay healthy? What can you change to achieve more?
Anxiety breeds products, especially the technology industry’s obsession with personal optimization, which in the past 10-20 years has spawned products called digital calendars that send you push notifications of your daily schedule. A platform that reimagines your life as a series of project management problems. A thick, encyclopedic planner that helps you set daily goals and monthly priorities. A self-help book that combines common principles from behavioral psychology to teach you the secrets to putting everything you buy into action to optimize your waking hours (and perhaps your sleeping hours, too).
Underlying all the tired debate about increasing human productivity and negating it as a concept is a fundamental truth that is often lost.probably there teeth A bunch of things you have to get done or want to do for reasons that have no discernible moral or political value. Things like making that long-delayed dentist appointment, shopping for groceries, answering a few nagging emails, and putting up the curtains in your new apartment. To that end, I’m bringing you just one life hack. It’s a humble to-do list written out with an actual pen on actual paper.
First, the cards on the table: I am not an organized person. Much of the advice on these topics comes from people with a natural sense of organization and focus, people who meticulously kept track of assignments and impending tests in their school notebooks as children. It is given. Now, when I have dinner plans for next weekend, I send out calendar invites to friends, and I never forget to water my plants and let them die. In my opinion, they were primarily born at third base and hit triple base. In contrast, I have what a psychiatrist once called “a really classic case of ADHD.” My executive functions will never return from the war. We’ve tried tips, tricks, hacks, apps, and methods. I quit countless planners in the first three weeks of January. Years ago, I purchased a box with a time-limited lock. I put my cell phone inside it so I could force myself to write an email. It’s probably counterintuitive, but that’s why I’m something of a lay expert when it comes to commonly recommended tactics for organizing your life (or at least your day).
It took an embarrassingly long time to put pen to paper. By the time I entered the workforce, smartphones were starting to become popular, and suddenly apps appeared. The late 2000s saw widespread optimism about the ability of consumer technology to help people overcome personal weaknesses and make their daily lives more efficient. Doesn’t your calendar app seem so much cleaner and more organized than a paper planner? Even better if your list of tasks that need your attention had a small vibration to remind you of them. Wouldn’t it be nice to have all your schedules, documents, contacts, and to-do lists in one place?
Fifteen years later, the answer to these questions appears to be “not really.” People are used to the constant beeps and buzzes of their phones, so mechanical push notification task reminders are less likely to break through the noise. Even if you create a to-do list in the Notes app, when you try to complete something and eventually lock your phone, the list disappears into thin air. Shareable digital calendars have practical advantages over older paper calendars, and services like Slack and Google Docs, which allow remote collaboration, are more obvious than sending documents back and forth by mail. brings efficiency. However, unexpected shortcomings of these services have also become apparent. Trivial meetings add up. Work blends into your personal time, and it’s actually not efficient. Best of all, these apps and tactics tend to be designed with a very specific kind of productivity in mind. This is the productivity expected of the average office worker, which involves many computer tasks and is often scheduled and predictable. If your work is more siled, distributed, or unpredictable, e.g. reporter’s— then bending those tools to your will becomes a difficult task in itself. Not to mention the difficulty of adapting these tools to the necessities of life outside of work.
I personally encountered the drawbacks of digital productivity hacks during the first year of the pandemic, when many people were feeling particularly isolated and wild. Time passed without the benefit of the routines I had built for myself in my daily life in the outside world, and I found it difficult to remember what to do and when to do it. I set myself reminders, opened accounts on task management platforms, and tried different types of note-taking software. It was all laundry. At the end of my rope, I took out my notebook and pen and flipped through the clean pages. I made a list of everything I could remember, broken down into its simplest components. clean the apartmentbut vacuum, take out the garbageand please change the sheets.
done. Once I created the list, all the clutter in my head was transferred to that page and things started moving forward. Even after all these years, it continues to work whenever I feel a little overwhelmed. After a few months of list-making success, I tried to apply this tactic to regular use of a planner, and it ruined everything. All you need is a regular notebook and pen. I can’t help but be cute. Don’t let your to-do list become a task in itself.
All of this may sound ridiculously simple and obvious. If you were born with this knowledge or learned it a long time ago, I’m happy for you. But for people like me, where this behavior doesn’t come naturally to us, its apparent simplicity is the genius of cultivating it. Your lists live with you on the physical plane, and might otherwise be out of sight and out of your mind (or worse, buried deep inside your laptop). (may be) tactile representation of the task. It only includes things you can actually accomplish in a day or two, and each time you turn a page, you’ll start again. If you think you’re done and then think of something you need to add to the list, please add it. If you get to the last few items on your list and find that they aren’t that important, don’t do them. Creating this type of to-do list takes no effort. It’s not aesthetically pleasing. You don’t need to organize it in any special way. Or you don’t need to organize at all. That’s not a plan. It’s just a list.
If psychological evidence makes more sense than the personal recommendation of a stranger with an aversion to calendars, a reasonable amount of research has accumulated over the years that suggests I’m on the right track. I did.This is how the list looks like: benefits working memoryyou can also write by hand instead of typing on the keyboard. It seems like it will help in some kind of recognition, including learning and memory. My own experience is consistent with the basic findings of that study. Writing out a list forces me to remember all the things that have been running through my head, occasionally stealing my attention and breaking through, and the tasks shift from my hands. Turn your head over the paper. That way my mind is free to do other things. For example, the one on the list. No need to buy branded tools, no subscription required. It cannot be monetized. Please write it on the back of your water bill. Don’t forget to pay your water bill.